Assistance from the government will be required in order for Myanmar handicrafts to penetrate the European and US markets and to build a “handicraft village” for manufacturing, exhibiting and sales within a single locality, Myanmar Arts and Crafts Association (MACA) chair U Tha Du said.
For the domestic arts and crafts sector, which is among the 12 main sectors underlined by the Myanmar Export Strategy (MES), wood carving, wood furniture, cane, bamboo and other handicrafts already have export prospects and markets.
Yet, the remaining sectors such as textile, silverware, oyster shell, tapestries, embroidery and lacquerware have to connect individually with the merchants from countries like China, India, Japan and Korea in order to secure a market, and thus it needs much government support to penetrate the markets of big countries, U Tha Du said.
As exhibition halls in the Europe and US are costly and accommodation charges are expensive there, local merchants can afford to go only to ASEAN and neighbouring countries. Government’s support is essential for the sector to tap into the bigger markets, he said when meeting the vice president recently.
If there is a market and orders are received, the country can secure tax revenue, covering the expenses made by the state.
In addition, businesses now have to rent small shops in order to sell their products. The government should allocate an area as a handicraft “village” for these shop owners to do business, attracting tourists and foreigners to visit, the chair added.
“If a handicraft village for these businesses is established like how’s it is done in Chiang Mai, we can gain trust and business for everyone,” he explained.
“When visitors come, they can observe and watch the production processes. There will be showrooms as well. To do so, the government has to arrange a large piece of land,” the MACA chair commented. It could be possible to set up a handicraft village in places such as Htauk Kyant, Hlegu and Thanlyin.
“We need support from the government for the sector to enter the European and American markets,” U Tha Du further said.
Currently, handicraft sector is struggling and the authorities should lessen the tax burden until the market rebounces, he urged.